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stever

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Egypt
« on: January 04, 2007, 12:55:22 PM »

i'm making a first trip to Egypt which will include Alexandria, Siwa, Cairo, and a Nile cruise including 3 days in Luxor

any recommendations?
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Spark_man

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Egypt
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2007, 11:06:07 AM »

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i'm making a first trip to Egypt which will include Alexandria, Siwa, Cairo, and a Nile cruise including 3 days in Luxor

any recommendations?
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I was there in Feb/March 2006.  What do you want to know?

Here's an update, since I didn't get a response and I don't want to leave people hanging.

If your looking for information on travel, customs, the sites, etc.  www.touregypt.com has just about the most comprehensive store of information on Egypt on the web.  They also have a discussion forum where you can post specific questions and get answers from people who have been there, done that.

The photo opportunities in Egypt are simply incredible.  If you want to shoot Landscapes (sans people), the time of year to go is the summer - their "off" season, but beware, the climate is brutally HOT in the summer.

I'm not sure what you are looking for here but I can tell you this:  The people are wonderful and once you been, you will want to return.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2007, 10:04:36 PM by Spark_man »
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sergio

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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2007, 10:31:27 AM »

I completely agree with Spark man. The trip I did was to go from Cairo out into the desert from one oasis to the next ending in Aswan. The desert is a hallucinating place! The White desert and the Black desert are incredible places to photograph. Have a nice trip. And try not to do it in summer. Temperatures are very high and unpleasant in that time of the year as I was told. I went in April and it was hot but very nice.
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Lisa Nikodym

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Egypt
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2007, 11:55:15 AM »

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The people are wonderful and once you been, you will want to return.

My experience there was quite different.  My spouse & I were there around '92, and found the people to be by far the most awful we've ever encountered on our travels.  The majority of the people we met outside the hotels were trying to persistently scam us and/or harass us.  It was quite unpleasant, and frequently felt dangerous.  (We had someone tell us afterwards that they probably thought we were Israeli and/or Jewish, even though we're not, but that's no excuse.)  The history and ancient ruins were absolutely wonderful, like nowhere else, but we were constantly feeling "under siege" by the local populace.  So, if you're not on a tour (which is considerably more insulated from the locals), be careful and be on the watch for problems.  We picked a hotel in the middle of Cairo so we could go walking around the city center, which we typically like to do in other places, but we gave up after a couple of attempts because of the constant harassment.  (And yes, we were dressed modestly.)

We were also appalled that they were taking poor care of their cultural treasures.  For example, in some of the painted tombs where flash photography is forbidden because it fades the paint, the "caretaker" would persistently try to get us to pay him a bribe to be allowed to take flash photos.  For that matter, most "caretakers" at the ancient sites are just locals trying to cash in the tourist trade, and not taking care of the sites at all.  Don't feel obligated to deal with them (in general, their offers of a "private tour" are pretty much useless); a firm "no thank you" and walking away is the best thing to do under many circumstances, repeating as necessary if they are persistent.

Photographically, be prepared for a wide variety of lighting conditions, from bright sun in the desert to deep shade in some of the ancient temples and tombs.  A wide-angle lens would be very useful in the interiors of some of the temples.  If some of the "caretakers" claim there are limits on photography (often remediable with a bribe), just ignore them unless you see official signs.

Lisa
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 11:56:30 AM by nniko »
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peter.doerrie

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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2007, 02:54:57 PM »

hi everyone,

my uncle has lieved in egypt for almost five years and I have visited him there twice, so I have a farely good knowledge of the country (for a tourist)

As mentioned above, the white and the black desert are just fantastic. They are some of the most remarkable pieces of landscape I have seen so far and far less known then the big sigths like the Pyramids and so on.
The "typical" Egyptian stuff is of course also quite remarkable, but be aware, that egypt has far more historical buildings then just the Sphinx, the big Pyramids and the temple of Luxor. No matter where your are, you will always find a worthwile shot.

Espeacially in Cairo, I would mention the many mosques and churches.

This brings me to one very important subject. Be aware, that many people in Egypt are prety religious and even if they are not have a totaly diferent understanding of moral values than "Westeners". Dress accordingly (for men: no trousers, ending above your knees, no bare shoulders. for women: no short trousers (I would recommend skirts), no bare shoulders, no deep decollete, generally not to much skin showing). Many people have problems with getting a photograf taken of them (as Micheal describes in his recent article about marrakech) and one should respect their wishes (I am not totally ok with Micheals "just do it and smile"-attitude in this point).

Also, as all foreigners will be ragarded as rich (remember, alone the flight which takes you to egypt costs more than many egyptians earn in years), donīt be avaricious. Give tips (called bakshish), even for little services (that is totally common in Egypt). But give accordingly to the service. (Most tourist guides have guidelines included)
And as the Islam redommends everybody to support the poor, and you are traveling an islamic country, do so and give spare change to beggars. (or if you donīt want to give money, buy them a bread - works also great for children)

Be patient with children. If they get on your nerves, smile at them. If you canīt stand them anymore, ask an adult for help. NEVER be rude.

Generally you will encounter many things you will not understand and you would change. But remember, you are a guest, so behave like one.

Oh, and I generally only met very courteous people. And I was not harassed more than on my most recent trip to the US for that matter.



EDIT: One more thing: Women should not travel alone, or in an "women only" group. This is one of the great cultural differences. I canīt say that I support this, but everybody who want to travel to egypt as tourists should respect that.
This is worse in rural areas (religious reasons) and in some very touristic areas (because of female tourists in the past, many young egyptians think women traveling alone are "not unwilling" if you know what I mean)
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 03:01:32 PM by peter.doerrie »
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sergio

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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2007, 04:20:34 PM »

I would like to add that I found people in Egypt to be VERY nice, though in Cairo they can get to be exasperating many times, because they want to sell you something. That is one thing and being threatened another. But everywhere I found people to be nice.
Especially the bedouins. They are great people. When I mean people I mean men, because I unfortunately never got to meet any women at all.
This not a place like the big cities of the modern world where people think you are crazy just because you say hello to a stranger standing next to you. Remember Islam encourages hospitality and respect towards others.
As always it is recommended to be as unobtrusive as possible with gear. I would personally take a small camera like a leica with a small lens and no big outfits nor big glass especially in Cairo. In the desert you can take all your arsenal out. Only the bedouins and foxes. Not more
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Spark_man

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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2007, 02:11:51 PM »

Yes, the requests for tips and the hawkish way the vendors and street merchants act can be a bit overwhelming for someone that has never experienced it.  I have read that many people have been turned off by it.  We found that a simple 'La, Shukran' did the trick.  As far as safety goes, there are police and/or armed guards everywhere you look.  This also can be a bit uncomforting at first but you get accustomed to it.  What you come to realize is that the Egyptian government takes tourist safetly very seriously.  I felt much less safe in New York than I did in Cairo.  Go with an open mind, be generous and thankful, act like a guest instead of a tourist and you will have a great time.
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stever

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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2007, 07:44:34 PM »

a somewht belated thanks to everyone

the trip exceeded my expectations - weather in March was great

Used the 5D with 24-105 and the 20D with 70-300DO (walk-around) or 100-400 (Nile cruise) - did not much miss a wider angle.  Used a lightweight tripod with pan head in the desert and a monopod elswhere.  The monopod was useful when my wife carried it (and was allowed in - not allowed some places).

Siwa Oasis interesting and the desert fantastic - suprised by the quantity of seabed fosils is certain areas - should have planned more time for the desert

Cairo was interesting, but was there on a day when many shops closed so street shooting less than optimum  -- reasonably discrete with camera, but in a country where tourism is 30% of the GNP, tourists with cameras seem to be a part of life for most Egyptians

Photography at temples and tombs a very mixed bag - virtually no photography of any kind in tombs and pretty well enforced (if you go in the summer when there aren't so many people around, a little baksheesh might do the job).  allowed in a few museums, almost all of the temples (generally no flash) -- but local government/officials have the power to change their mind at any time (had a good guide and rules had changed since his last visit and posted rules not necessarily current)

Extremely fortunate to be with a cruise going to the northernmost currently permitted stop, Naj Hammadi with a drive (50 people in two buses accompanied by two pickup loads of police with AK47s and contingents of local police turning out in every town and blocking every cross-road on the route) to Abydos which is probably the best preserved temple of the New Kingdom.

Additionally, the Nile between Luxor and Naj Hammadi is pretty un-spoiled with people going about their daily lives, fishing, harvesting sugar cane, cutting wheat, washing clothes in the Nile, etc.  People very friendly - a whole school emptied out to wave at our boat.

Now for an up-graded computer and workflow to deal with all the RAW files produced by the 5D.
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peter.doerrie

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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2007, 09:07:18 AM »

One more comment concerning taking pictures in temples and tombs:

NEVER use flash. of course it is more comfortable and the results are better. And in some cases you might even be able to bribe the guard or do it unnoticed. But again. NEVER do it.f you do it, you have a real nice photo of the colorful paintings. but if a couple of people have made nice photos, the rest of the world will never be able to see the real paintings.
Those paintings are thousands of years old and extremely vulnerable when it comes to flashlight. So appreciate them, but only take pictures if you can do so without doing harm.
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